Over the years, I've seen many friends and neighbors at the monthly Second Saturday Art Walk down the St Claude arts corridor. This year, I was happy to hear that, once again, GRN was partnering with the Wetlands Art Tour, an annual event happening alongside Second Saturdays. The Wetlands Art Tour was created by the artist, activist and host of "The Goodnight Show," John Calhoun, to use art as a means of increasing conversation about coastal erosion and wetlands restoration, inspiring engagement with the pressing environmental issues surrounding New Orleans.
Don't let the name fool you, the Wetlands Art Tour is not simply a series of art exhibits. The tour kicked off on Friday at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center with a panel and reception focused on the intersection of justice, health and environmental movements in the city. Saturday morning, a bike tour rode from Clouet Gardens in the Marigny to Bayou Bienvenue, where participants enjoyed a taste of the wetlands - in town, from a kayak. Later, at the Mother Earth Day Festival in the Lower 9 All Souls Church, folks learned about floodwater management, hurricane protection, the role of wetlands preservation, and watched a solar derby race. Saturday afternoon, NOCCA hosted a panel discussion and a screening of "MRGO-ing, Going, Gone,” and that evening, 14 locations in the Upper Ninth Ward exhibited wetlands-themed art.
I spent most of my time at Clouet Gardens, the art tour headquarters, where there was live cajun music and delicious food trucks. Weekend participants had plenty of opportunities to take action on the environmental issues covered in the tour – 350louisiana.org had a petition asking for 20% renewable energy in New Orleans by 2020, there was a call on the New Orleans City Council to implement sustainable practices in our stormwater management system, and GRN’s own Natasha Noordhoff, Grace Morris and Jordan Macha hand printed one-of-a-kind, Wetlands Art Tour poster that were available for purchase!
When I got a call early last week from my friend Pippin Frisbie-Calder to help set up her newest exhibit, Microscopic Sirens, which debuted on the Wetlands Art Tour, I was quick to sign onHer exhibit was created in collaboration with Dr. Tim McLean, a micro-biologist at Tulane University, while living as an artist resident at Studio in the Woods. Her exhibit showcases microorganisms found along the gulf coast and highlights their role in ecosystem health. She features cast resin light sculptures and blacklight reactive prints of invasive and native algae - all created from samples collected and analyzed in this marriage of art, science and environmentalism.
Everyone who worked on the Wetlands Art Tour truly embodied Betolt Brecht’s sentiment that, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it." More information about the Tour at www.wetlandsarttour.com.
Megan G. is a GRN volunteer who donates her time to the Development team.